While daughter Marissa is a freshman, son Justin graduated from UCLA in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in history and political science. And the Levis themselves are active on campus as the new co-chairs of the UCLA Fund Parents program, which encourages the involvement of UCLA parents.
For the Levis, it’s just one more chapter in the never-ending story of their involvement in education at every level. The couple owns and operates six schools in the Los Angeles area ranging from elementary to kindergarten to infant care.
Mia, who received her communications degree from UCLA in 1977, enjoyed a successful career as a television news writer, and later as public relations expert. But in 1987, after taking classes in early childhood education, her career took a sharp turn when she and her husband opened their first preschool.
Their work in education over the years has provided the couple with many lessons, including the importance of emphasizing the individuality of each student. “We’ve learned about the hazards of making generalizations about children. Frequently, if a student isn’t doing something on target, educators make rash decisions about where to place that child or how to address the problem.”
Another lesson? “Don’t worry so much about the simple things that kids tend to grow out of. If a child is very shy, for instance, that doesn’t mean he or she will be that way for life.”
They have also learned how important it is to the educational experience for parents to be involved in their child’s school. “Parent involvement passes along a strong message to the child that he or she is important, and that school and education are important. It also allows parents to network more easily with other parents and facilitates communication between them and the school. Everybody wins.”
The Levis believe parent involvement at the college level is just as valuable. “Even though kids are older and more independent,” says Mia, “the same benefits apply. Fortunately at UCLA, through the UCLA Fund and other programs, the university offers plenty of opportunities for parents to be active at the university.”
One such way is UCLA Homecoming and Parents’ Weekend 2004, from October 29 – 31. The Weekend is a three-day celebration that allows parents and students to learn about campus life together through such activities as dean and faculty presentations, meals and events with the chancellor and his wife, and the UCLA Homecoming football game. Mia and Evan will be volunteering throughout the weekend, representing the Parents program and helping to guide parents as they discover—or rediscover—the university.
As parents of both a graduate and a current student, the Levis will be in a unique position to answer questions from the many parents they will be meeting during Homecoming and Parents’ Weekend.
“It’s such a kick for us to be involved in this event,” says Mia. “We’re looking forward to celebrating the Bruin spirit with our daughter and with other parents.”